“I had a lot of dreams as a kid. One of those was model airplanes. I started making them after my sixth-grade year. I would take the planes I made to the flying field and be the only teenager there with a bunch of older, retired guys. Flying has always been a cool superpower. Making something that flies is not flying, but it’s close. I am about to be a senior at Davidson High School. I love learning and people and have helped tutor in math and chemistry. It feels good to help others learn something I have already learned. I am going to major in aerospace engineering or computer science, but I don’t know where I am going to college.
I am about to be a leader in Lamplighters. We were the inaugural class and we will help show the next class the ropes and help mentor them. The name means we light the way and want people to see us do great things so we can represent our community in a positive way. God has called me to speak my mind to help others understand. I was shy when I was little, but high school brought me out of my shell.
I saw the video of George Floyd and had to speak out so I wrote about it on Instagram. We know things like this happen, but when it is recorded and you see it, you have to do something. It made me think of all of the black Americans that I heard about, like Trayvon Martin, but never saw what happened. Writing opened my mind and helped me understand. My parents taught me how to act around the police. Don’t wear the hood of a hoodie. Don’t have your hands in your pockets. Don’t look overly nervous. Speak slowly and clearly. Do the best you can to help them understand your intentions, and understand their intentions. Listen to them carefully.
I was raised not to be a threat. That is a strange feeling. You want to go out and have fun, but you also have to keep in mind that people everywhere see you as a threat. Even if they aren’t white. Society raises people to think darker skin color is a threat. Those of us with darker skin know this, but try to push it to the side and go about life. We grow up and get used to it. It’s just life, but that is the sad part about it. There are some days you are aware of it and have to get the feelings out. My brother and dad played basketball, so I played. Basketball is therapeutic. As a black male, it is hard to go out and be physically active, such as going for a run. Basketball is a safe place to run, play, and be aggressive without being seen as threatening.
I wish people could feel what it is like for a random person to look at them with fear. When it happens to me, I want to walk up and tell them that I am okay and don’t mean any harm. But If I do that, I don’t know what would happen. There is so much on social media right now, but it seems like we aren’t having conversations in real life. Talk to us about how we feel and what we are going through. Talk with your black friends. We judge people before we know them. We think they are weak or a threat, or not worth getting to know.
My brother is my best friend. Adjusting to him going to college was tough. I hung out with his friends and he took me places to hang out with my friends. I was happy being the side character of his story. Then I had to change and become the main character of my own story. My parents did a good job spreading out the love and making sure neither of us felt left out. Now I am getting all of that love to myself. My dad has taught me to think on the spot. My mom has taught me to voice my opinion and to be real and love the people who are showing love back to me.
Change to me is diversity. In my head are pictures with black, hispanic, and white people together getting along. Guys and girls communicating to understand each other. People aren’t as scary or confusing, once you talk with them and get to know them.”
This is from Jarrett’s post on Instagram discussing his experience as a young black teen in 2020:
Many of you know I am a relaxed guy, but don’t understand that I am “chill” because I have to be. At a very early age, 4-5 years old, I was conditioned to condense my reactions, because when I react, I am seen as a threat. I can’t express my excitement too much because high levels of energy can be seen as “threatening.” I surely couldn’t express my anger because high levels of negative energy would be “threatening.”
Sleepover or house party talks are very critical. So many things could go wrong at those parties that we have to be on high alert at all times. Someone could easily say a black man stole from their house and it is assumed to be true.
There is a reason black people don’t like being the only black person in the room. We have to have talks about how we confront people, how we interact with others, and how we express our feelings all the time.
Walking outside past a certain time is dangerous, alone or in a group. My mom used to watch me every time our dog had to use the bathroom early in the morning or late at night because she’d get worried. Even walking around in my own backyard at night is dangerous.
There are so many talks. But they have to happen because as soon as we are caught off guard or make the wrong move, it could easily lead to serious consequences including the possibility of death.
I know it must be hard for parents when they hear their child ask the question “Why do they hate us so much?” and the answer is the color of our skin.